Six Famous Outlaws Who Buffaloed Colorado
Outlaws. Just the name can inspire fear, excitement, curiosity and, in some cases, fanaticism.
These six outlaws, including two women, were some intense and violent people, who lived a life few others could match. For this reason, people keep finding them interesting.
Let's take a look at six outlaws that made their way into Colorado.
Don't be mislead. Mountain Charley was actually Elsa Jane Forest Guerin, and her claim to fame was dressing as a man to track down the man who murdered her husband. The tale is told that she was married at age 12 and by age 15 had two children. At this point, her husband, a riverboat pilot, was murdered by someone named Jamieson. It took her 11 years and a lot of travel to finally track the man down. Track him down he, I mean she, did. Both were wounded in the gunfight, but Elsa was absolved of any wrongdoing when the man confessed to the killing. She later remarried, as a woman.
Jefferson Randolph Smith, or Soapy, was a conman, plain and simple. He organized crooked gambling games from Texas to Colorado and it was through these games he happened upon his nickname. Smith would appear to wrap money into soap he sold for five cents. With an assistant, would trick the people watching into thinking they might find a bar of soap wrapped in a hundred dollar or even a ten dollar note. Which, of course, they never did.
Slade had two distinct personalities. When sober, he was thought of as a nice guy, good businessman and friendly.
Jack Slade was mostly an outlaw fighter, but also was in charge of the Pony Express and a stagecoach line. It was during this time he met Jules Reni, who had started his own town (Julesburg) and was stealing cattle and money from unsuspecting ranchers and travelers.
During a gunfight, Reni caught up to Slade who was shot with a shotgun. Reni thought he killed Slade, but as Slade lay on the ground he told Reni he would find him and, "wear his ears on his watch chain."
Two years later Slade would do exactly that. Reni was caught by Slade's men and tied to a hitching post where Slade shot of his fingers, cut off his ears and shot him in the head. Slade wore the ears, as he promised, on his watch chain.
As Slade became more prosperous, he started drinking more. When he would get drunk he would shoot up the town, terrorize the citizens and even challenge hardened criminals to fights.
He was ultimately hung from a corral post for "disturbing the peace."
Tom Horn had a lot of different jobs in his lifetime. Pinkerton agent, detective, soldier, cowboy, scout, and a hired gunman. It was that which brought him his fame and ultimately ended his life. During a dispute with a rancher, Horn shot and killed a 14-year-old kid, and was hung for the crime.
Cassidy, who was born Robert Leroy Parker, is known to anyone who watches movies about the old west or reads books on the subject. Born and raised in Utah, Cassidy would grow up to be one of the most notorious bank robbers of his era. According to legend, he was shot and killed in Bolivia in a gunfight, along with is partner, the Sundance Kid.
Talk about a strange ending to a life, this one will have you scratching your head. Kirkham was deemed the only female stagecoach robber of her time, as her love of gold kept her chasing after it, robbing coaches and living off the proceeds.
Kirkham's husband was a sheriff and had been charged with bringing the coach robber to justice. He disguised himself as a woman and, when the robber stepped out of the shadows, he shot and killed what he thought was a man.
It turned out the man they all thought was robbing the stagecoaches was actually a woman. The wife of the sheriff! He purportedly buried her alongside the road, where the headstone stands.
Colorado outlaws of the day sure were a creative bunch.